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Bugs celebrate tech company's boom

By JEFF HARRINGTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


Not all tech companies are in the doldrums.

Chris Smith just drove away with a chrome-trimmed piece of evidence that his employer, Digital Lightwave, is doing just fine.

Smith, a 11/2-year veteran of the Clearwater company, had his name pulled at random during an employee meeting this month to celebrate year-end results. His prize: a white 2001 Volkswagen Beetle engraved with "Digital Lightwave Special Edition."

The giveaway was the brainchild of Digital chief executive Gerry Chastelet. Two more gleaming white VW bugs are sitting in the company's lobby, to be given away in random drawings in quarterly meetings in April and July if employees meet their internal targets.

So far, so good.

Digital, which makes testing equipment for fiber-optic communication networks, projects revenues to grow another 50 percent this year. It anticipates earnings of between 75 cents and 85 cents a share, not far from the record it set in 2000.

A slowing economy in the United States has done little to dissuade Digital from its strategy of expanding quickly overseas.

"It's kind of weird because everyone else is downsizing," Digital spokeswoman Kim Denham said. "We're hiring."

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